You cannot lose weight without burning up more calories than you eat; you gain weight only when you eat more than you burn. Obviously, then, an effective weight loss program is one which has you eat fewer calories than you burn. Contrary to what many people think, regular exercise usually diminishes the appetite rather than increasing it.
Weight loss is not easy, and it is often not fun, although it can be. One pound of body fat contains about 3,500 calories, a substantial amount when compared to the calories in most foods, or even in most full meals; unfortunately, it is also substantial when compared to the number of calories utilized during exercise. Permanent weight loss takes time. For best long-term results, it is recommended that only one or two pounds be lost per week. Most of us would like to lose weight faster, but are rarely able to lose it even at the recommended rate.
Fat becomes more of a problem with increasing age because of decreasing activity and a decreasing metabolic rate. Women store more fat than men do. The recommended “ideal” fat for women is 19 percent of body weight. For men it is 12 percent. There are two kinds of fat: essential and storage.
Essential fat is stored in the bone marrow, brain, spinal cord, and major organs, and should not be lost. Women normally have about 12 percent essential fat, while men have only 3 percent. Storage fat serves as protection for the vital organs. It is extra fat that protects too many of us far better than necessary. It is the fat that weight loss programs attempt to reduce. The desired amount of storage fat for both sexes is about 7 to 8 percent.